And the beat goes on. Another well-pitched, well-played Oriole victory that merely adds to the frustration of trying to catch the front-running New York Yankees. It's becoming monotonous.
The O's survived some early difficulties tonight, then rallied for three runs in the seventh and two in the eighth for a 7-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers before 10,272 fans at Memorial Stadium. It was Baltimore's 10th victory in 13 games with Detroit this season and its 12th in 18 games in September. But that 667 percentage, for which Manager Earl Weaver was hoping this month, seems substandard compared to that of the Yankees, who have been 16-2 over the same period.
"I looked up at the scoreboard," said right fielder Ken Singleton, whose two-run single in the seventh was his 19th game-winning hit of the year, "and thought 'Wasn't it 5-3 Toronto?' (It was, starting the 10th inning of Wednesday night's suspended game). Than I saw the Yankees won (8-7 in 12 innings) and thought, 'That's amazing.' It's really disheartening. But no one will say they backed into it."
The Yankees did lose their second game, dropping the lead to five games with 16 remaining.
No one will say the O's folded their tents and went home either. They easily could have done so last night, but apparently thought better of it.
Scott McGregor, who entered the game with an 8-12 lifetime mark against the Tigers and has been the team's best pitcher for the last month, had his streak of 17 1/3 scoreless innings against Detroit broken after three batters. Steve Kemp's long sacrifice fly drove home Rick Peters, who led off the game with a line drive that he hustled into a double, and one out later Lance Parrish doubled Alan Trammell home.When the first two Detroit batters singled in the second inning, the situation was serious enough to warrant a visit from Weaver.
"He told me that they seemed to be sitting back for my offspeed stuff," McGregor said. "So I told him I'd adjust. After the first three or four guys scored two runs and they get five hits in less than two innings, you know you have to do something. I figured I'd throw the first pitch down the middle and go from there."
It was as successful trip. McGregor regained control of his rythym and the game, allowing only one more run when Trammell drove home Peters in the fifth.
The O's, meanwhile, had looked helpless against patsy Milt Wilcox, who had never beaten them in seven tries. At one point he retired 11 of 12 batters. Singleton, who leads the league in game winning hits, doubled home Rich Dauer with a first-inning shot against the left field wall and the O's cut their deficit to 3-2 in the fifth when Eddie Murray singled to score Dauer. It was Murray's career-high 100th run batted in.
"I know we didn't look too good for a while," Weaver said, "but all night the guys on the bench kept saying we were going to get him."
They finally did. Catcher Dan Graham led off the seventh with his 12th home run, a long blast over the left field wall. A double by Doug DeCinces ended Wilcox's evening and infield singles by Mark Belanger and Al Bumbry loaded the bases. Dauer struck out, but Singleton ripped an Aurelio Lopez fast ball into right field to give Baltimore a 5-3 lead.
The prosperity apparently was too much for McGregor. He departed after Parrish's two-out eighth inning single. Tim Stoddard portected McGregor's 19th victory and earned his 23rd save. Bumbry helped Stoddard along with a two-run triple in the eighth.
"It was real gratifying to win this one," McGregor said. "On nights like this when you're not too fine, you know you can't walk anyone because you'll give up more hits than usual. I really had to pitch tonight. It's nice to battle your brains out and come in with a win."